But building a brand image comes down to much more than just what you see of a brand logo design on a billboard. Marketing expert Seth Godin, for example, defines a brand as a set of “expectations, memories, stories, and relationships” that are able to promote or distinguish one brand over another.
That promotion or distinctiveness is what compels a consumer to choose your brand. And that set of expectations and experiences is shaped by the qualities and values that your brand embodies.
"The defining factor that has kept us in business, and growing, for more than 40 years,” says Virgin’s Richard Branson, "has been the strength and reputation of the brand." He formed his brand around his personal values, and calls that “the best decision we ever made."
If that seems like a big goal to aim for, or even a little amorphous, don’t worry. We’ve got a list of tips from experts on how to create an enduring brand image that wins the loyalty of the customer.
Branson also states brands work best when they are formed around your own core values. So while your brand personality may not directly reflect your own personality, your personal values should definitely be in line with the values of the brand.
In short, you and your brand should be working toward the same goal.
People will identify your brand with you. And, increasingly, personal branding is becoming more and more effective. For example, your visibility online and the information people can find about you can greatly increase the probability that consumers will seek you out.
Research shows that up to 53% of decision makers choose not to pursue a further business relationship based on online presence, or lack thereof. So while privacy is important, accessibility on a personal level does elevate a brand image.
And that doesn’t mean hiding quirks and offbeat tendencies, either. Again turning to Richard Branson, who sets a standard for brand image success that is difficult to beat, we find that "quirk" can actually be a winning brand strategy. "Too many companies want their brands to reflect some idealized, perfected image of themselves," he says. "As a consequence, their brands acquire no texture, no character and no public trust."
We started this article off by talking about visuals, and how many people combine the meaning of a brand image with a brand’s visuals. There’s a reason for that, of course; we are a visually-oriented species.
For instance, on average we are able to follow visual instructions better than written instructions — up to 323% more accurately. We also have a much higher retention rate for visual information.
And, of course, it’s easier to condense a brand into an attractive business logo design than it is to try to share the essence of the brand image we’re so carefully creating.
All of that illustrates why crafting your brand visuals is so important to the overall brand image. "Design is the silent ambassador of your brand," said famous graphic designer Paul Rand.
So it’s vital to craft your visual design in a way that both enhances and reflects your brand image.
Since branding is about more than just the solid visuals, though, it’s important to remember who you’re branding for: your customers.
Whether loyal followers or potential buyers, your audience is the intended recipient of all your branding efforts.
Brand image consultant Kim Garst notes the importance of identifying the crowd you’re playing to, isolating what they’re looking for, and then establishing your brand as the "expert" they’ve been searching for.
Providing actionable, memorable, or entertaining content is an important part of creating a brand image that your audience gets. And so is making sure to be responsive to questions or complaints.
Be accessible, as well; for most brands, that means a presence on social media.
That’s becoming an expected part of a good customer service experience. About 63% of consumers actively anticipate that the brands they are interested in will have a social media account.
And it helps to promote the brand image as well: 71% of social media users are more likely to recommend a brand to others after having had a positive customer experience with the brand, via social media platforms.
A final part of crafting the customer experience is consistency. Customers want to know what to expect from their chosen brands.
Alina Wheeler, author of Designing Brand Identity, points out that brands are "messengers of trust." They’ve established communication with their customers, and that gives them an "in." At the same time, cohesive branding tools, she says, help a brand to connect with their customers in a meaningful way.
That element of consistency is so important, we’re going to go into a little more.
It’s a quality that has attracted a lot of attention from branding experts.
This illustrates why an overall strategy for brand growth is so important for any company. To harmonize all these different elements, it requires an awareness of and dedication to coalescing the goals and values of the brand with the further growth of the brand.
In other words, your brand image can’t be static. As your company continues to grow, as your audience continues to expand, your brand image must adapt as well.
A brand image is what tells your customers what to expect. It’s a familiarity that can lead to further conversation and investment.
Carefully crafting a stunning brand image paves the way for people to speak the language of your brand. It builds loyalty among your customers and employees alike. And it helps to ensure the continued growth of your brand.
Consistency is one of the key elements of establishing a brand image. But it’s also important to remember to remain authentic and real; stay true to yourself and your own core values, and you’ll stay true to your brand image.